The optimism that had developed on the macro-economic and the real
estate industry front in the beginning of 2011- 12, unfortunately,
withered away as the year progressed. GDP growth in India reduced to
6.3% in 2011-12. This is the lowest growth rate recorded in the last 10
years. In this environment, construction industry growth in India
reduced to 5.3% in 2011-12.
Clearly, it was a dif cult year for the real estate sector in India.
The industry was most affected by the high cost of capital and a
virtual freeze in availability of finance. The regulatory environment
affected commercial bank finance to the real estate sector and the
global economic uncertainties, especially the crisis in Europe,
resulted in a drying up of foreign capital flows into India.
You would recollect that in 2009, your Company reoriented its strategy
with a focus on faster monetisation of the large low cost land reserves
that it created in the preceding years. It had entered the ''affordable
housing'' segment and launched a slew of projects, which were well
accepted by the market. From around thirty projects under execution in
2008-09, your Company now has nearly 100 projects at various stages of
execution. The Company has also simultaneously initiated a number of
measures to enhance its execution capabilities to ensure quality and
timely completion of these projects. We had started making good
progress in this endeavour till the dramatic squeeze in funding options
hit the real estate sector since the beginning of 2011-12. The lack of
refinancing options disturbed the balance that the Company was
maintaining between increases in construction expenditure on one side
and reduction of debt on the other. Although this development adversely
affected the construction activity, on a positive note the Company
reduced its debt further during 2011-12. Today, your Company has one of
the lowest net debt to equity ratio in the real estate sector of 0.45.
Construction activity has been picking up gradually since beginning of
calendar year (CY) 2012 and we expect to soon expand to the desired
levels of construction.
I am firmly of the view that the fundamentals driving demand for real
estate in India remain intact and the Indian real estate consumer
continues to repose faith in our products. It is also note worthy that
in adverse conditions, indications from the residential property price
index calculated by the National Housing Board suggests that property
prices have remained stable during 2011-12, if not marginally
increased, for most cities and towns in
India. Unitech launched several projects during the year totalling an
area of 7.81 million sqft. and sold a total of 7.19 million sqft.,
which were evenly spread out over the four quarters. Clearly, the
strategy of developing a wide range of product on our land bank with a
focus on affordable housing is continuing to succeed in the market.
During 2011-12, we stepped up efforts to further improve the existing
systems and processes. We have also engaged the services of a global
consultant to evaluate and suggest improvements in certain specific
areas such as project management and material procurement. SAP
implementation has been extended to a wider number of projects. Also,
to promote and develop excellence in construction, the Company is
implementing model best practices in its own construction subsidiary –
Unitech Infra. This will set benchmarks for the other vendors to
Going forward, it is also important for me to point out that the
industry is increasingly coming under the ambit of several regulatory
developments. Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill,
2011 and Draft Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2011 are
two such developments. While these are well intentioned, they may run
the risk of stiffing the growth of the real estate sector if proper
balance is not maintained between the interests of various
stakeholders. I welcome any regulation that promotes healthy
development of the real estate sector in India.
Unitech continues to conduct its business in a way that creates social,
environmental and economic benefits to the communities in which it
operates and the Company has always contributed towards the betterment
of the society through various welfare initiatives including provision
of education, skill development and healthcare for the underprivileged
section of the society through ''Saankalp'' - the CSR group of Unitech.
These activities continued unabated. I urge you to read the chapter on
Management Discussion and Analysis, which provides more detailed review
of our businesses and CSR activities.
At this juncture I would like to thank all our stakeholders – our
people, our vendors and subcontractors, our partners, our shareholders,
our creditors and our customers. All of you have always believed in and
stayed committed to our business and its products and services. The
year 2012-13 will be another year that will throw up new challenges and
I am sure we are geared to take them on and grow further as an
enterprise. I urge you to continue to repose faith in Unitech and
Unitech will continue to deliver value.